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Ancient Plant Garden

What is old is new again, and again, thanks to evolution. One of the most visceral and enjoyable ways to experience time unfolding is in our Ancient Plant Garden. Tunnel your vision from any number of purviews here and you can imagine dinosaurs grazing just beyond the fern fronds. Many non-extinct living plant groups are represented in this garden, some of which are known as 'living fossils.'


Explore the Ancient Plant Garden About the Collection

The layout of the Ancient Plant Garden allows visitors to move chronologically through five periods or epochs: Early Devonian, Pennsylvanian, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Eocene. Low growing simple plants like Chara (green alga), Angiopteris and Osmunda (fern) represent the early Devonian epoch. Pennsylvanian plants represent a time when plants started growing to tree size, plants like, Equisetum myriochaetum, E. gigantum (horsetail), and Dicksonia (tree fern). The Jurassic epoch was when seed plants began to dominate. Here we begin to see Podocarpus, Araucaria, Cycas (Cycads) and Agathis. During the Cretaceous period angiosperms (flowering plants) started to appear including Illicium, Aristolochia, and Nymphaea (water lily). Finally in the Eocene epoch angiosperms dominated and leaf size grew due to a warm, moist climate. Magnolia, Mahonia, Ranunculaceae (buttercup family) and Zingiberaceae (ginger family) are all representative of this time period.


Featured Plants

Gunnera tinctoriaGunnera tinctoria
Chilean rhubarb, Dinosaur food


Araucaria heterophyllaAraucaria

Norfolk Island Pine


Christmas Rose

Ancient Plant Garden

Gunnera tinctoria. Photo by Photo by Derek Powazek.

More Images

Ancient Plant Garden. Photo by Heidi Wohlwend. Ancient Plant Garden. Photo by Heidi Wohlwend. Ancient Plant Garden. Photo by Heidi Wohlwend. Ancient Plant Garden. Photo by Heidi Wohlwend.
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Ancient Plant Garden

Footprints. Photo by Ron Sullivan.

SFBGS and San Francisco Recreation and Park Department San Francisco Botanical Garden's beauty and value as a major cultural resource are the result of a successful public/private partnership between San Francisco Botanical Garden Society and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

ADMISSION  FREE for Members, SF Residents (with proof of residency) & School Groups | $8 Non-residents | Discounts for Seniors, Families & Children

LOCATED In Golden Gate Park, with entrances at the corner of Ninth Ave. at Lincoln Way (Main Gate) & at MLK Jr. Drive off the Music Concourse (Friend/North Gate) | Phone: (415) 661-1316 | Mail: 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122-2370

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